We all have different inclinations in life. Our different feelings, positions and perspectives help shape our community. Those close to me know that I am almost always inclined towards optimism. Almost to a fault I can look in and see the good or the opportunity in any situation. This internal leaning has helped shape the way I view people around me.

No matter how many sad stories come through the news, online or interpersonally I am inclined to believe the best in people. Some people are more skilled with a critical eye and see the potential pitfalls – but when I look at people I see the good and generally lean towards trusting in their capabilities and their intentions.

The painful truth is that sometimes that “believe the best in people” mentality gets you burned. People are not perfect. Believing the best in people is (in my opinion) the right gear to sit in as you drive through life. (Click to tweet) That belief in people often times pays off, but sometimes it comes back to bite you.

In the journey of life we will be burned by, let down by and disappointed in people. I wish that was not true, but it is about as much as a guarantee as death, taxes and Tom Brady.

What are we to do when we believe the best in people and then get burned? In those moments of processing I believe we come to a series of crossroads. Here are 4 decisions we have to make in light of the pain and frustration of being burned by people:

  1. Leave the Mess or Clean up the Mess – When people let you down it creates “mess” in your world. Do you leave the mess or clean it up yourself? Sometimes leaving the mess is a wise decision so the person could eventually come back and address it. Often times our desire to “leave the mess” is a response out of frustration instead of wisdom. Believing in people is a risk; it is a bet. It is a bet I will always encourage you to make. If I made the bet, I must be the bigger person and tend to the clean up that follows.
  1. Chose Forgiveness or Bitterness – Trusting people is a big deal, so it can feel personal when they let you down. Will your next step be defaulting towards bitterness and holding a grudge against them? Will you take the route of forgiveness? Not much to say on this because the Apostle Paul made it pretty clear in his letter to the Colossian church…“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
  1. Take it to God First or Take it to Them First – When people burn me it is frustrating. It messes with my mind and my emotions. As much as I want to deal with the outer circumstances immediately, I have to tend to the internal work first. I can bring my frustration to God and process those thoughts and feelings with my Father in Heaven, or I can go and spew them on the person who wronged me. Going to God first helps me process disappointment so I don’t respond out of emotions and create a new mess for others. (Click to tweet)
  1. Call it Quits or Continue Believing in People – Getting burned can cause a person to shut down…to turn off the part of their heart and brain that allows them to trust people. I know when I risk and it goes against me the last thing I want to do is risk again. I’m not telling you to risk blindly or trust people without using discernment. However following the burn we naturally want to pull back and believe a little bit less in people. My encouragement to you would be to keep the candle of belief burning for those around you. People will let you down, however over your lifetime they will surprise you with what they can accomplish if you chose to believe in them. (Click to tweet)